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7 reasons you might be tired all the time

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Tell me if this scenario sounds familiar.

You wake up in the morning, wondering how it possibly got to be 7am on another weekday again. How can it only be Wednesday? Why is the weekend so far away?

You launch yourself into your day anyway, powering through the morning with coffee, and pepping up your afternoon with peanut M&Ms, and trying to keep yourself away from the Diet Cokes and Redbulls.

But the exhaustion is there. Always creeping up on you, to the point where you wonder how reasonable it would be to actually get a caffeine drip installed in your arm.

You run from one commitment to another. You eat when you can. You drink water when you remember. You exercise when you’re not too tired… which isn’t all that often. You live for the weekend, because at least it means you will have five spare minutes to sit down and maybe have a meal where you can actually remember chewing your food.

You’re always tired. You can’t really remember the last time that you felt refreshed. Revitalised. Ready to wake up and attack the day with enthusiasm.

I’ve been there. I imagine we’ve all been there. So I consulted PT and qualified holistic lifestyle coach, Kirsty Welsh, about how to fix it.

Here’s what we came up with.

1. Ask yourself: are you tired, or are you tired-tired?

The first step to fixing a problem is, understandably, figuring out what the problem is.

“Believe it or not, there are two types of tired – being tired, and being tiredtired,” Kirsty explains.

Tired-tired is where you’re feeling constantly exhausted, really unwell and can barely even fathom getting out of bed in the morning. Your body is run down to the point where your tiredness has become a much bigger problem, and it’s been going on for weeks now.

If you can relate, it’s best to go and see a doctor, as these symptoms could be related to something much more serious that needs a longterm fix – diabetes, chronic fatigue and iron deficiency are just some of the things you may need to be tested for.

The first kind of tired is your regular kind of burning-the-candle-at-both-ends tired. You’re okay, just kind of running at 75% all the time, and you know you could feel better, but you just can’t quite get there. This post can help with that kind of tired, so read on.

2. Drink more water

You may not realise just how much dehydration impacts on your energy levels.

“In winter, we just don’t really tend to think about hydrating ourselves. We don’t feel particularly dehydrated – after all, it’s so cold and it’s not really tempting to reach for a cold glass of water to get into your system. And yet we’re more dehydrated than ever during winter, especially due to cranking up the heating,” Kirsty explains.

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A great thing to do is to be more creative with your water intake so that you’re motivated to stay hydrated – drink more herbal teas or have water-based soups for lunch.

3. Sleep the right way

“You need to consistently get seven hours,” Kirsty says. “More is good – seven to nine is ideal – but under seven is just… nope. If seven hours is your goal on a regular basis, then you’re doing okay.”

I find the best trick here is to treat yourself like a four-year-old, but with a really late bedtime. SET YOURSELF AN ALARM for 10pm and when that alarm goes off, regardless of what you’re doing, kick your butt into your bedtime routine. Face-washing, book-reading, lunch-packing – whatever has to happen can be done.

By 11pm, you should be in bed and sleeping. Kirsty says that between 11pm and 1am is the most crucial time for your body to be asleep, for hormone regeneration purposes.

If you like, you can calculate your exact wake-up time using the sleepytime bedtime calculator, which gives you the best time to wake up, based on your sleep cycles. I throughly enjoy also monitoring my sleep hours with my Fitbit One – my average is 7 hours and 55 minutes.

4. Eat properly

Sadly for your sweet tooth, your processed and high-in-sugar foods will make you sluggish and fatigued. Kirsty suggests limiting those foods and stocking up on foods that are high in Vitamin C (which help the immune system) and your liver (your major detoxing organ of the body).

“If your liver is sluggish, so is your body,” Kirsty explains. “Beetroot, broccoli, garlic and onion look after your liver and they’re pretty easy to get into your day.”

5. Stop throwing your hormones out of whack

At the end of the day, we’re just all a little bit too stressed out. We fill up our schedules to breaking point. We try to have the perfect family life, the perfect career, the perfect relationship, the perfect social life and the perfect body… without realising that our bodies simply aren’t designed to be rushing around so much.

To explain: when you’re busy and stressed, your adrenal gland secretes adrenaline. This is designed to be a rare thing in the times when you really need extra energy. So in the old days, your adrenal gland would have released adrenaline when you were being chased by a sabre tooth tiger and really needed to get away.

Kirsty explains that these days, we’re always rushing – and we’re always secreting adrenaline. “Most of us have come to rely on that as our general day-to-day mode,” she tells me. “But eventually your adrenals just go, ‘oh my god, I can’t keep sustaining you,’ and they start giving up. We’ve got to remember that our bodies aren’t super human. We’re designed to have rest and recovery.”

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“If you’re always in a hurry? If you’re always rushing? If you’re always the person who is smashing the pedestrian button at the lights, or eating their lunch on the go? Your adrenal gland is overworked, and you need to fix it.”

I know. I can hear you over there, getting all frustrated, because you don’t have time to fix it. You can’t give up any of your work, and none of your other commitments are going to magically fall away.

The best thing to do?

6. Meditate

Meditation is one of the best ways to get some balance back in your life. Yoga is also great – these are both things that give your body some energy, rather than depleting it.

“Meditation is just a way of teaching your body awareness,” Kirsty explains. “Whatever you’re thinking has a reaction in the body. If you feel stressed, the physiology of your body changes – your shoulders tense up, you shut your breathing off. When you meditate, you start to listen to your body. You feel the tight spots in your body and become aware of any unpleasant sensations.”

Luckily, meditation comes in a million different forms – so do whatever suits you. Go surfing, or take a hot yoga class. Anything that has you bringing some awareness to how your body is feeling in that present moment.

If you’re really short on time, Kirsty suggests taking just two minutes out of your day to just sit and breathe. “Deep breathes give our body energy, as air is delivered deep into your diaphragm and to your muscles,” she says.

So on the bus, before you go to bed, wherever – take a few minutes to breathe in for two counts, and out for four counts. It’s all a form of meditation. Slowly, you can work up to spending your day breathing consciously. “Once you start conosciously breathing, your mind works better, you get more clarity,” says Kirsty.

7. Exercise, but don’t worry about smashing yourself into the ground

“If you’re tired because you’ve had a big day, go pump some blood around your body,” Kirsty encourages. “You’ll feel a million times better. Go do a spin class or a resistance training session. Go do a boxing class! That’s fun. Go do something that you’re not really thinking about. You know if you’re being lazy or if your body genuinely can’t do it. Trust your instinct and listen to yourself.”

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